Posts Tagged ‘London Photos’

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi – 2007

Monday, April 22nd, 2024

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi – for me Sunday 22nd April 2007 was very much a day of two halves, with a morning spent at the Shakespeare’s Birthday celebrations around the Globe Theatre in Southwark and the afternoon with Sikhs celebrating in East Ham.


Shakespeare’s Birthday – Globe Theatre, Southwark

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi

Shakespeare was born in April 1564, but the exact date is not known, though he was baptised on April 26th. Conventionally his birthday is celebrated on St George’s Day, April 23, so although this event was a day earlier it was just as likely to be his actual birthday.

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi

Unusually I didn’t write anything on the April 2007 page of My London Diary about either of the two events I photographed on this Sunday, other than the links to to pages of pictures, but there are some captions with the pictures that give the story of the day.

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi

People met on Montague Close at the north entrance to Southwark Cathedral for the start of the carnival procession. Among them were the Pearly King of Bow Bells & Blackfriars and the Pearly Queen of the Old Kent Road, as well as a very splendid large dragon, who was accompanied by a man in a harlequin costume and mask of diamonds of blues, greens, yellows and reds.

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi

Fortunately for the dragon I think St George was saving his appearance for the following day, although later there was a man carrying his flag, and perhaps the man himself arrived after I had to rush away at noon.

Shakespeare and East Ham Vaisakhi

There were musicians with large drums and small whistles and others in some kind of medieval dress as well as a large posse of masked children as we made our way west past Pickfords Wharf and along Clink Street to the riverside and Bankside in front of the replica Globe theatre were we were welcomed by Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole, who invited us all – including the dragon – into the theatre.

Given the Globe is a wooden structure which would burn rather well this was perhaps foolhardy, but the dragon did seem rather short of fiery breath and on his or her best behaviour and posed for photographs rather tamely and demurely on the stage with the children and others. No children were eaten or maidens ravaged at least while I was there.

I was sorry to leave, but there’s a time for all things, and my time on Bankside ran out fast, and the journey to the Gurdwara in East Ham from London Bridge to West Ham and then East Ham and the walk to Rosebery Avenue took me around an hour.

More pictures on My London Diary.


Vaisakhi – East Ham – Gurdwara Dasmesh Darbar

The street was densely crowded as I got close to the Gurdwara, but people were very welcoming and let me through, though I stopped to take a few pictures of them.

As I arrived the organisers were giving people at the front of the crowd handfuls of flower petals which were thrown as the Guru Granth Sahib – the sacred Sikh scriptures and eternal Guru – was carried on cushions on its bearers head, sheltered by a saffron and blue umbrella, to be placed on a float.

The came the Khalsa, carrying Sikh standards and with the five in saffron robes holding their swords.

There were prayers and the five had flower garlands placed around their necks and loud blasts from a splendid curved metal horn, a Narsinga announced the start of the procession, with the congregation joining behind the float carrying the Guru Granth Sahib.

The Khalsa walk barefoot with holding their swords upright and looking ahead rather than at the ground and a team of sweepers, also barefoot, sweep the roadway in front of them.

The procession moved onto the main road, High Street North, which was soon packed as far as I could see in both directions. I waited for the end of the procession to pass but did not follow it on the long procession around the area which takes several hours.

There are many more pictures on My London Diary


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Walking the Olympic Area – 2012

Sunday, April 21st, 2024

Walking the Olympic Area – Unless my memory has failed me (which it often does these days) the two day course I ran on Saturday 21st April 2012 and Sunday 22nd was my last formal teaching session. I think I have turned down a few requests to run workshops since as they are rather tiring.

Walking the Olympic Area - 2012

I can’t remember exactly how the course came about, but the venue was the View Tube, now run by Poplar HARCA for the local community, which had opened on the Greenway overlooking the London Olympic site in 2010, as a cafe and education centre. A set of bright yellow boxes it then had an upper floor viewing area overlooking the building site.

Walking the Olympic Area - 2012

I’d been photographing the area on and off since 1982 – and you can see many of the pictures I took on a web site, The Lea Valley. I think the course will have begun with me showing some of those pictures and talking about them before taking the participants out for some fairly short walks around Stratford and Stratford Marsh, or at least those areas still open to the public. The pictures here are all from the two days of the course.

Walking the Olympic Area - 2012

Travelling across London to the area I had to give myself plenty of time in case there were any travel delays, so I arrived well before the course was due to start on both days and was able to walk around and make a few pictures then.

Walking the Olympic Area - 2012

While leading the students around the area I was mainly involved with facilitating them making images, but did manage to make a few for myself, and I think I also stayed on a little after the day finished for some more.

On the Saturday we went along the southern edge of the site and into Stratford Westfield and up to the John Lewis viewing area before returning for a lunch break for the students when I made some panoramas close to the View Tube while eating my sandwiches. Parts of the area were quite crowded with others who had come to view the site. Fortunately there were considerably fewer on the workshop than in this picture.

After lunch I took everyone along the Greenway, into Fish Island, across Old Ford lock, down the towpath to Bow Flyover and then to Pudding Mill Lane station.

We met again on Sunday morning at Pudding Mill Lane station. Again I’d arrived early and had already made some pictures before the walk began up the Greenway to Hackney Wick, through Fish Island to White Posts Lane before returning over Old Ford Lock to the View Tube.

I had requested those taking part to work with digital images – and I think almost all had done so. Lunchtime gave them a chance to review the pictures they had made and we then were able to see and discuss the work, though unfortunately we could only see the pictures rather dimly as the teaching area, although it had a nice large touch screen, had no blinds on its windows.

You can see more of the pictures I made on the two days on My London Diary, including some of the panoramic images. All my pictures were taken on a Nikon D700 camera, I think all with the laser-sharp Nikon 16-35 f4.0 lens. The panoramas were made with the same lens, taking a series of 5-10 exposures and digitally stitching these together using PTGui software, probably the most powerful and flexible photo stitching application available. Photoshop now does a decent job with simple panoramas but has fewer options.

Panoramic images don’t display well on this blog, so apart from the one at the top of the post showing the View Tube you will need to go to My London Diary to see more. Most of those I took showing the actual Olympic site on these two days are panoramic.
Olympic Course Day 1
Olympic Course Day 2


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25 Years Ago – April 1999

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

25 Years Ago – April 1999. When I began posting on my web site My London Diary I decided that the posts would begin from the start of 1999, and there are still image files I created in January of that year on line, though I think they probably only went live on the web a few months later.

25 Years Ago - April 1999
The Millennium Dome seen across the River Thames from Blackwall DLR station, one of a series of medium format urban landscape images.

In those early days of the site there was very little writing on it (and relatively few pictures) with most pictures just posted with minimal captions if any.

25 Years Ago - April 1999
Burnt out cars at Feltham on the edge of London, stolen and wrecked on waste land by youths.

A single text on the introductory page for the year 1999 explained my rather diffuse intentions for the site as follows (I’ve updated the layout and capitalisation.)

What is My London Diary? A record of my day to day wanderings in and around London, camera in hand and some of my comments which may be related to these – or not

Things I’ve found and perhaps things people tell me. If I really knew what this site was I wouldn’t bother to write it. It’s London, it’s part of my life, but mainly pictures, arranged day by day, ordered by month and year.

My London Diary 1999

25 Years Ago - April 1999
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster (left) takes part with Anglican and Methodist clergy in the annual Good Friday Procession of Witness on Victoria St, Westminster.
25 Years Ago - April 1999

In the years following My London Diary expanded considerably, gradually adding more text about the events I was covering but retaining the same basic structure. Had I begun it a few years later it would have used a blogging platform – such as WordPress on which this blog runs, but in 1999 blogging was still in its infancy and My London Diary was handcoded html – with help from Dreamweaver and more recently BlueGriffon, now sadly no longer.

25 Years Ago - April 1999
Man holding a placard at a protest against Monsanto’s genetically modified crops.

My London Diary continued until Covid brought much of my new photography to a standstill and stuttered briefly back to life after we came out of purdah. But by then my priorities had changed, and although I am still taking some new photographs and covering rather more carefully selected events my emphasis has switched to bringing to light the many thousands of largely unseen pictures taken on film in my archives, particularly through posting on Flickr. Since March 2020 I’ve uploaded around 32,000 pictures and have had over 12 million views there, mainly of pictures I made between 1975 and 1994. The images are at higher resolution than those on my various web sites.

121 Street Party, Railton Rd, Brixton. 10th April 1999 121 was a squatted self-managed anarchist social centre on Railton Road in Brixton from 1981 until 1999.

Since I moved to digital photography My London Diary has put much of my work online, though more recent work goes into Facebook albums (and much onto Alamy.) My London Diary remains online as a low resolution archive of my work.

Sikhs celebrate 300 Years of Khalsa – Southall. 11th April 1999

April 1999 was an interesting month and all the pictures in this post come from it. I’ve added some brief captions to the pictures.

No War on Iraq protest – Hyde Park, 17 April 1999 President Bill Clinton was threatening to attack Iraq to destroy its capability to produce nuclear weapons. Operation Desert Fox, a four day air attack, came in December 1999
Southall Remembers Blair Peach – Southall. 24th April 1999. Blair Peach, a teacher in East London was murdered by police while protesting a National Front meeting in Southall in 1979.

Stockley Park – one of a series of panoramic landscapes of developments in London – this is a major office park with some outstanding architecture

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Vaisakhi, Uganda & Freedom Umbrella – 2011

Tuesday, April 9th, 2024

Vaisakhi, Uganda & Freedom Umbrella: On Saturday 9th April 2011 After visiting Woolwich to photograph the Vaisakhi celebrations I came back into central London to photograph Ugandans and Kurds protesting for freedom and democracy.


Vaisakhi Celebrations in Woolwich

Vaisakhi, Uganda & Freedom Umbrella

For some years I had been documenting religious festivals in and around London and had photographed a number of Sikh Gurdwaras at their Vaisakhi festivals.

Vaisakhi, Uganda & Freedom Umbrella

On Saturday 9th April 2011 I went to the Ramgarhia Association Gurdwara in Mason’s Hill Woolwich. The Ramgarhia are a Sikh community who originally came from the close to Amritsar in the Punjab and traditionally they were carpenters, blacksmiths and other artisan workers but were renowned for their military prowess and the victories of the armies.

Vaisakhi, Uganda & Freedom Umbrella

When I turned up I was warmly welcomed and taken to the Langar hall where I enjoyed some of the free vegetarian food on offer to all, prepared and served by members of the congregation who volunteer their services as a part of their religious practice and was able to talk with people there and wander around taking photographs.

Vaisakhi, Uganda & Freedom Umbrella

The Gurdwara was established in 1970 in an existing landmark building, the Victorian Freemasons Hall, just over the Woolwich border in Plumstead on a street which was then called Mount Pleasant.

The Freemason’s Hall was where the Royal Arsenal Football Club held its annual meetings and dinners, and on 16th May 1891 that the Annual General Meeting of the Royal Arsenal Football Club (earlier known as Dial Square) the committee announced it had decided two weeks earlier to turn professional and had thus resigned from the amateur Kent and London Associations.

In 1913, the club moved across the river to a new stadium at Highbury, where it continued to play until 2006, when it moved the short distance to its new Emirates stadium. Apparently it is doing quite well at the moment.

The Vaisakhi festival, which takes place on April 14 each year marks the formation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, in 1699. You can read more about this and the Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan procession which is lead by five Khalsa – baptised Sikhs – dressed in saffron robes and turbans and carrying swords in the account I wrote on My London Diary, Vaisakhi Celebrations in Woolwich, as well as in the posts on other Vaisakhi processions on that site.

On My London Diary I wrote in more detail about the origins of Vaisakhi and the 10th Sikh Guru who gave Sikhism its modern form with its symbols and the eternal guru, the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy religious scripture being reverently carried out to the procession in th picture above.

Unfortunately the start of the procession was delayed and although I had photographed the preparations for it I had to run to catch a train before the actual start of the colourful procession, with its joyful singing of Sikh hymns, martial arts demonstrations and Dhol drumming through the town, expected to take several hours.

More at Vaisakhi Celebrations in Woolwich.


Ugandans Demand Democracy – Uganda House, Trafalgar Square

Ugandans had come to protest outside Uganda House in Trafalgar Square, calling for new free and fair elections after the rigged Parliamentary and Presidential elections in February.

The election on 18 Feb had resulted in the re-election of the sitting president Yoweri Museveni, in power for 25 years, apparently getting 68% of the vote.

But the EU Election Observation Mission which had been in Uganda for the vote reported the election, with a turnout of only 59% had been “marred by avoidable administrative and logistical failures which led to an unacceptable number of Ugandan citizens being disenfranchised” and that Museveni had used his presidential power to “compromise severely the level playing filed between the competing candidates and political parties.”

As well as the state owned Uganda Broadcasting Corporation giving much more coverage to the ruling NRM party, there had been extenisve human rights abuses with the police failing to take action against groups attacking opposition political meetings, intimidation and assaults on journalists and the cancellation of broadcasts.

Ugandans Demand Democracy


Freedom Umbrella Kurds March Through London – Old Marylebone Rd – Downing St

Freedom Umbrella (Chatri Azadi), a coalition of British-based Kurdish organisations and supporters, had organised a demonstration in front of the offices of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Old Marylebone Road followed by a march to a rally opposite Downing St.

They called for support of the people’s uprising for freedom and social justice in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan which had begun on 17th February but had hardly been noticed by UK media.

Two Kurdish militia groups dominate Iraqi Kurdistan and remain in power. On 19th April their security forces began a more organised violent crackdown on the protests which brought them to an end.

I met the protesters as the march neared Trafalgar Square and photographed their rally opposite Downing Street.

More pictures Freedom Umbrella Kurds March In London.


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Zuma, Boat Dwellers, Syria & Latin Village – 2017

Monday, April 8th, 2024

Zuma, Boat Dwellers, Syria & Latin Village: Saturday 8th April 2017 was another varied day for me in London with protests against South African President Zuma, the Canal & River Trust, chemical warfare in Syra and against the planned demolition of the largest Latin American community market in England.


Zuma Must Go – Trafalgar Square

Zuma, Boat Dwellers, Syria & Latin Village

South Africans living in the UK had come to protest outside the South African High Commission after President Zuma sacked the Finance Minister and his deputy.

Zuma, Boat Dwellers, Syria & Latin Village

They accuse Zuma and the African National Congress government of wrecking the South African economy and say that “Zuma must fall”.

Zuma, Boat Dwellers, Syria & Latin Village

Police had set barriers outside the High Commission for the protest and the protesters were so densely packed into the area that it was very difficult to move around an take photographs.

Zuma, Boat Dwellers, Syria & Latin Village

It was a colourful protest and certainly demonstrated the anger of those taking part but the ANC would still remain the leading party and if Zuma resigned he would be replaced by another ANC leader.

Zuma did finally go, replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018 because of the increasing allegations of corruption and cronyism and in 2021 was given a 15 month contempt of court sentence for refusing to testify. Ramaphosa is also a controversial figure with various allegations of corruption, and as as London Platinum non-executive director urged the police to take the action which lead to the police massacre at Marikana on August 16, 2012 which lead to the deaths of 44 miners and over 70 more with serious injuries.

The elections next month, May 2024 are expected to be the first since the end of apartheid in 1994 in which the ANC will not gain over 50% of the vote and the country may get a coalition government. Zuma who has now joined the opposition Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) party has been banned from standing in the election but has appealed the ban.

Zuma Must Go


Boat dwellers fight evictions – Embankment Gardens

Boat dwellers held a rally in Embankment Gardens before marching to Downing St and DEFRA to demand the Canal & River Trust (CRT) stops evicting or threatening to evict boat dwellers without permanent moorings.

The say the British Waterways Act 1995 includes the right to live on a boat without a permanent mooring and that the CRT is acting illegally in evicting or threatening to evict boat dwellers.

Although boats can be required to move after 14 days at a mooring, the law requires at least 28 days notice and does not lay down restrictions on the distance boats have to move or that they should be making a “progressive journey.”

Some of the speakers at the rally had horror stories about boats being seized and other illegal activities by the trust, a charity set up in 2012 to look after the canals and navigable rivers.

Boat dwellers also oppose the plans being made for chargeable bookable moorings and want the trust to maintain the canals properly. The rally was still continuing when I needed to leave.

Boat dwellers fight evictions


March Against Chemical Warfare in Syria – Marble Arch

RefugEase and Syria Solidarity Campaign had organised this march calling on the UK Government to protect civilians in Syria.

President Assad’s forces used Sarin nerve agent three years earlier at Ghouta, and a few days before the protest there had been another attack using Sarin at Khan Sheikhoon near Idlib on April 4th.

The West’s response to the Syrian Revolution has been confusing and largely ineffectual. The US and Turkey encouraged and aided the setting up of an Islamic state and allowed it to export oil to finance its operations – and later the US gave air support to the Kurds to defeat ISIS. And although there were strong words over the use of chemical weapons at Ghouta, there was no real action. Nor has their been any opposition to the invasion and occupation of large parts of Syria by Turkish forces.

The march to Downing St began at Marble Arch and I walked with it down Oxford Street as far as Oxford Circus Station where I caught the Victoria Line to Seven Sisters.

Against Chemical Warfare in Syria


Human Chain at Latin Village – Seven Sisters

The indoor market next to Seven Sisters station in South Tottenham had been reinvigorated in recent years by the local Latin American community and had become the largest Latin American community market in England.

Part of the site at Ward’s Corner has been derelict for some years and the local authority, Haringey Council, wants to demolish the who block together with property developers which would convert it to expensive flats and chain stores, profiting investors at the expense of the community.

In 2008 the community gained the support of London Mayor Boris Johnson who wrote to the council asking them to review the scheme. But the council were determined to go ahead along with property developer Grainger PLC and issued a compulsory purchase order in 2016 which was finally approved by the secretary of state for housing, communities, and local government James Brokenshire in 2019.

The community in the area had been fighting since 2002 to save the Latin Village from this social cleansing and gentrification and on Saturday 8th April 2017 held a festival there. The speeches and performances paused for everyone to join hands in a human chain around a quarter of a mile long around the whole block.

In 2020 Transport for London who had taken over the management of the indoor market closed it down. But in 2021 Grainger PLC withdrew from the plans for the site. You can read more about the Wards Corner Community Plan online. The Community Benefit Society was launched in 2022 and planned to reopen the site in 2024.

Many more pictures at Human Chain at Latin Village


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Colindale and West Hendon Estate 2017

Thursday, March 28th, 2024

Colindale and West Hendon Estate: I’d actually gone to Colindale on Tuesday 28th March 2017 to attend the public inquiry into the second phase of the demolition of the West Hendon estate which was beginning at the RAF Museum there.

Colindale and West Hendon Estate 2017
New buildings on York Memorial Park and the West Hendon Estate across the Welsh Harp

But the proceedings there were tedious and while such things are important unless you are personally involved it soon becomes hard to remain involved. Nothing I heard in the short time I stayed would not have better been submitted as documents and probably had been. And it was a nice day outside.

Colindale and West Hendon Estate 2017
RAF Museum

I left and paid a short visit to the rest of the RAF Museum before going to photograph Grahame Park across the road from the museum, a large council estate built by the GLC and Barnet Council on the rest of the old Hendon Aerodrome site in the 60s and 70s, the first residents moving there in 1971.

Colindale and West Hendon Estate 2017
Grahame Park Estate

By the time I first visited to photograph the estate in 1994, some changes had been made, removing connecting walkways to split the flats into smaller units and replacing some flat roofs with pitched roofs. A more dramatic phased regeneration began in 2003 and considerable building work was still taking place in 2017.

Colindale and West Hendon Estate 2017

The regeneration will greatly increase the number of homes on the estate, and the new properties are more energy efficient, but the original number of council rented properties of almost 1800 will be reduced to around 300. Around 900 of the new properties were to be at so-called “affordable rents” and the remaining 1800 for sale or rent at market prices.

A few hundred existing residents with secure tenancies will be rehoused, but most of the estate residents do not qualify for rehousing, including some who had lived here for over 15 years. They will need to find private rented properties elsewhere in a typical example of social cleansing by Barnet Council, in league with developer and social landlord Genesis Housing Association.

As is the case in other regeneration projects on council estates around London this results in a huge transfer of land from public to private ownership and fails to meet the housing needs of poorer residents, many of whom are forced to move further from jobs, friends and families.

Colindale Ave

I walked from the estate to Colindale Station through another large area of building work, mainly of expensive private housing in large blocks of flats with an area action plan for of expensive private housing in large blocks of flats. Of course we need new housing but should be concentrating on providing it a reasonable cost for those most in need – which means social housing. Not building homes that will take up to 46% of tenants incomes in London, well above the “30 per cent of income” affordability threshold set by the ONS.

WestHendon Estate

I could have walked from Grahame Park to the West Hendon Estate about a mile and a half away but couldn’t see a decent route on the map, so took the tube to Hendon Central and caught a bus from there. The West Hendon Estate owes its genesis to a large bomb on 13th February 1941 which destroyed or rendered uninhabitable 366 houses, damaging a further 400 in the area, killing 75 people and severely injuring another 145. Over 1500 people were made homeless.

York Park there became York Memorial Park, a green open common designated as “a War Memorial in perpetuity” as a mark of respect to all who lost their lives. In the 1960s the remaining houses in the area were replaced by the West Hendon estate, comprising of 680 one-bedroom flats, two-bedroom maisonettes and three-bedroom council houses, along with open space, a community centre and a play area.

Barnet Council handed the memorial park – at least £12 million of public land – over to developers Barratt and they built a 29 storey tower block on the park – “perpetuity” becoming shorter than living memory. The West Hendon estate is being demolished in phases and being replaced by Hendon Waterside, largely expensive flats with views across the Welsh Harp. There will be an increase in the number of homes to 2,171 but many will go to overseas buyers and will be kept empty as investments whose value is expected to rise steeply. And somewhere at the back of the estate will probably be a little social housing – but only a small fraction of the original 680.

Few of the residents will qualify for rehousing but with higher rents and less security of tenure. Most will lose their homes and be ‘socially cleansed’, forced to move out of the area and away from friends, jobs, schools etc. Housing isn’t just a crisis but a shamefull twentyfirst century scandal.

More pictures on My London Diary:
West Hendon Estate
Colindale


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Riverside Brentford – 2016

Tuesday, March 26th, 2024

Riverside Brentford – Saturday 26th March 2016

Riverside Brentford - 2016

As a child I grew up in Middlesex, by then a rather truncated county on the north and west of London, though once it had included the cities of London and Westminster and many of London’s Metropolitan boroughs north of the Thames and west of the River Lea. Brentford, a couple of miles from where I was born, was the nearest thing the county had to a county town, though it had few if any of the normal attributes of one, with no town-hall or other public building.

Riverside Brentford - 2016

Often on Bank Holidays our father would take us on a 237 bus from Hounslow to Kew Bridge Station, the route going through Brentford High Street where it was often held up as we gazed through the top deck windows at the sites. Under the railway bridge leading to Brentford Docks where we might see a steam hauled goods train, over the canal bridge where the locks and dock area were normally busy with barges,past the Beehive on the corner of Half Acre with its tower topped by a giant beehive and on through the noisy, smelly gas works to Kew Bridge.

Riverside Brentford - 2016

We walked across Kew Bridge and then turned down the side of Kew Green to the gate of Kew Gardens, where a penny – an old penny, 240 to the pound led us into the extensive gardens where we could wander all day. This was before the days of garden centres and my father would always have a small pair of scissors in his pocket to take the odd cutting or pick up a seed or two on our walks.

Riverside Brentford - 2016

Later, in the early and mid 1950’s I would ride my bicycle around much of Middlesex and Surrey – and that included Brentford, but I think it was only much later when I became a photographer that I really explored the area and found out what an important communication link it had been. Brentford is where the inland waterways system with the busy Grand Union Canal joined the River Thames, just a few miles upriver from the great Port of London.

In 1978 three of my photographs from Brentford were published in Creative Camera Collection: No. 5, a prestigious collection of contemporary photography published by Coo Press, the publishers of the monthly magazine Creative Camera and edited by Colin Osman and Peter Turner. It wasn’t the first time my work had been published but was great to be on the pages with some very well known photographers, including one who much later became a friend, John Benton-Harris.

Brentford has changed greatly since then, with much of the riverside now lined with expensive flats rather than commerce and industry. The gasworks site became a riverside park and an arts centre, where I took part in and helped organise a number of exhibitions. But there is still enough of the old Brentford untouched, though less each time I go there.

I first returned in the 1990s, when I was teaching a few miles down the road, bringing students to see shows there and to wander around the area taking pictures. Later I came back for walks on my own or with friends, such as this one on Saturday 26th March 2016 with my elder son. Brentford hadn’t been my first choice by railway engineering works that week end made travelling out further to the east of London impossible.

As well as making ‘normal’ pictures with lenses giving a horizontal angle of view of between 10 and 84 degrees (focal lengths 20 to 200mm) there were some pictures where I felt an even wider view was needed and I made some panoramss with a roughly 145 degree angle of view. The pictures above and below illustrate the difference.

We didn’t end our walk in Brentford, but continued on past Syon House to Isleworth where we ate our sandwiches in a relatively sheltered square before following the Duke of Northumberland’s River through Mogden Sewage Works to Kneller Park and then Whitton Station for the train home. You can see a much wider range of pictures online on My London Diary at these three links:
Syon, Isleworth & Mogden
Riverside Brentford Panoramas
Riverside Brentford


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Bermondsey Equinox 2015

Wednesday, March 20th, 2024

Bermondsey Equinox: Spring, or rather Astronomical Spring, officially starts today, 20th March, though meteorologists see things differently and start it on March 1st and the weather has its own ideas. Botanists too make up their own minds by looking at plants.

Bermondsey Equinox

Today is the Spring Equinox, which I always assumed meant equal lengths of day and night, but checking the tables I find that today we get 24 minutes more day than night.

Bermondsey Equinox

The actual definition of the Equinox is apparently the moment when the Sun is directly above the equator and the Earth’s rotational axis passes through from being tilted towards the southern hemisphere to the north. So it really is just a moment, this year at 3.06 am UTC 20th March. Most years it falls on 20th March, but in 2007 it was on the 21st in the UK, and this year will be on the 19th across the USA.

Bermondsey Equinox

But watch out for Druids, particularly should you be near Tower Hill, where in some previous years I’ve photographed their celebrations which begin at noon, I think Greenwich Mean Time.

Bermondsey Equinox

It’s an interesting event to watch, and doubtless important for those taking part, and also good to photograph at least once or twice, but when you’ve done it a few times difficult to find anything new to say.

So I won’t be there today. And I won’t write about it here, as last year I posted Druid Order – Spring Equinox at Tower Hill and you can still read all about it there as well on the various other posts here and on My London Diary.

Back in 2015 I didn’t go to Tower Hill but was instead on the opposite side of the River Thames in Bermondsey, out for a walk around one of my favourite areas of London with a few photographer friends.

As I wrote then, it was “really just an excuse to meet up, go to a couple of pubs and then end up with a meal” and though it was a fine afternoon I don’t think any of us took many pictures. I’d photographed the area fairly extensively in previous years and had even written a leaflet with a walk for part of it.

The leaflet came about back in the dark ages of computing, when Desk Top Publishing had more or less just been invented and I was teaching an evening class in the use of Aldus Pagemaker, bought up by Adobe in 1994 who then killed it and brought out Indesign, more powerful but far more difficult to use. West Bermondsey – The leather area was an industrial archaeology walk which I made use of to illustrate some of my lessons.

Over the next few years I printed hundreds of copies on my Epson Dot-Matrix printer – which accounts for the crude illustrations – and sold them at 20p a time – hardly a money spinner but it covered my costs. They were bought and given out by local historian Stephen Humphrey (1952-2017), chief archivist at Southwark’s Local Studies Library for 30 years on his local history walks and sold at the Bermondsey festival. I met Stephen who wrote a number of publications on the history of the area a few times – and had visited him in the Library when researching the leaflet, which also relied on information from a walk led by Tim Smith for the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society where it is one of a very long list of interesting walks in London.

The area has changed considerably since I wrote it, but most of what is mentioned remains despite considerable gentrification. You can find several hundreds of my older images of Bermondsey in colour and black and white on Flickr – including those used in illustrating the leaflet in much better reproduction.

There are a few more images from my 2015 walk on My London Diary at Bermondsey Walk.


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Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade – Willesden Green 2007

Sunday, March 17th, 2024

Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade – Willesden Green

Brent St Patrick's Day Parade

In 2007 St Patrick’s Day, 17th March, fell on a Saturday and the parade in Willesden Green held on the day itself was well attended. I found it rather more interesting than the big London celebration with a march from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square the following day, though I met some of the same peopleand groups again there.

Brent St Patrick's Day Parade

It had been a busy day for me, starting with a protest about problems for young doctors in the NHS whose managers had managed to make a complete mess of their workforce planning with thousands of junior doctors likely to find themselves without a place to continue their careers in the coming August, and there being no consultant posts for thousands of registrars in 2010-11. Among the speakers was the then Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron who I found hard to photograph. More on this on My London Diary, with pictures starting here.

Brent St Patrick's Day Parade

Next up was a protest four years after the invasion of Iraq, where 655,000 had by then died. My comment in 2007: “It is always easy to be right in hindsight, but the majority of the British people were right at the time of the invasion, and the government held its telescope firmly to its blind eye of mis-interpreted, faulty and partly invented intelligence. unfortunately both Britain and even more Iraq will suffer for Blair’s shameful mistake for many years to come.” And they are still suffering. It was a small protest in Trafalgar Square, mainly by Iraqis and there are just a few pictures here.

Brent St Patrick's Day Parade

Also in Trafalgar Square, close to Canada House was a protest against the annual slaughter of seal cubs in Canada, clubbed to death in a way that “is certainly inhumane and a public relations disaster, with blood staining the ice and clubbed animals at times being skinned while still conscious.”

But then I took the underground to Willesden Green, where “a much happier event was taking place … the borough of Brent was celebrating St Patrick’s day with a parade and cultural activities.” Mainly but not exclusively Irish, but with many from Brent’s other communities taking part and watching.

It’s great to photograph the people out on the street to celebrate, and wanting to have their pictures taken, and there was plenty to photograph, including of course St Patrick himself leading the procession, along with the mayor, Kensal Green councillor Bertha Joseph, in her second term as mayor.

She was brent’s first African Caribbean mayor in 1998. but of course the real stars of the event were the people of all ages who were taking part and having a fine time.”

After the parade there was time for the culture – in the form of a pint of Guinness in a real Irish bar, after which I went to watch the band ‘Neck’ performing, and the people dancing to their music.

It was a fine event, the band clearly setting out not just to play but to entertain the audience and doing so in great style.

More pictures of Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade begin here, and you can also view those I took on the following day at London Celebrates St Patrick’s Day.


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Whittington, Syria and St Patrick – 2013

Saturday, March 16th, 2024

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick – Saturday 16th March 2013 saw me travelling around London to cover three events, starting at a march against hospital cuts, then a march supporting the Syrian revoltuion on its second anniversary and finally an Irish parade on the day before St Patrick’s Day.


Whittington Hospital March Against Cuts – Highbury & Islington

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick

Dick Whittington, more formally Sir Richard Whittington (c1354 – 1423) was four times Lord Mayor of London and did a lot for the medieval city, including financing drainage systems in its poorer areas and setting up a hospital ward for unmarried mothers and leaving his considerable fortune to set up a charity which still 600 years later helps those in need.

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick

He made his fortune as a mercer, importing luxury fabrics such as silk and velvet and exporting English woollen cloth and later as a money lender to wealthy noblemen and kings. It isn’t clear if he ever had a cat, but the legend about him fleeing London with one and turning back when he heard Bow Bells from Highgate Hill first made it to print in 1612.

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick

The Whittington Stone was placed at the foot of Highgate Hill in 1821, though earlier it had been the base of a cross there; it only gained a cat on top in 1964. But Whittington’s name is remembered in a number of pubs across the country, including The Whittington & Cat on Highgate Hill, which closed in 2014. Islington Council and local residents fought to keep it, and prevented its demolition in 2012 by declaring it to be an asset of community value, but it became a flooring shop.

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick

More importantly Whittington’s name became that of the major hospital formed when earlier hospitals on three nearby sites were amalgamated when the National Health Service was formed in 1948.

Three years before this march, huge local oppositin had forced the cancellation of plans to end Accident and Emergency, Paediatrics, Maternity and Intensive Care at the Whittington Hospital, but now it was threatened again by a new hospital trust with plans to reduce maternity services, close wards, provide fewer beds for the elderly, cut 570 jobs privatise some services and sell off around a third of the site, closing all onsite accommodation for nursing staff.

I met several thousand protesters close to Highbury & Islington Station where they were preparing to march to a rally outside the hospital. Among those marching were local MPs, Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett, Bruce Kent and various celebrity supporters of the campaign, as well as the truly remarkable Hetty Bower, born in 1905, who became a pacifist at the time of the ‘Great War’, and took part in the 1926 General Strike.

You can read more about the event and see my pictures of many of the marchers on My London Diary. I left the march shortly after it started to go to my next event.
Whittington Hospital March Against Cuts.


Syria – Two Years Fight for Freedom

I arrived outside the Syrian Embassy in Belgrave Square while the rally before the march was taking place with members of the Syrian Community in Britain speaking.

Most of the speeches and chanting were not in English, and the Free Syria campaign appears to have little support from the British left who might have been expected to support their freedom fight. There were a few protests at the start, but often confused and mainly opposing any involvement in Syria by British forces.

The Syrian revolution against the Assad regime had also received little actual support from the UK Government and US support seemed halfhearted. When Assad began using chemical weapons against the Syrian rebel held areas there was strong condemnation but no action and any threats soon melted away once Russia became involved in supporting Assad.

One of the placards carried by marchers included a question which now seems particularly relevant in view of what has been happening in Gaza: ‘Hey World, How Many Kids Should Be Killed Before You Do Something?’

I walked with the marchers on their way to Downing Street as far as the Hyde Park underpass where it looked impressive as it made its way under the Hyde Park underpass, fairly densely packed and with flags waving it spread wide across the road, stretching back into Wilton Place over 200 yards away. Then left for Willesden Green.

Syria – Two Years Fight for Freedom


St Patrick’s Parade Brent – Willesden Green

For several years I had enjoyed the Brent St Patrick’s Day parade, sometimes going together with friends including John Benton-Harris who had photographed St Patrick’s Day here and across the USA as well as in Ireland over many years. The parade in Brent, usually on the day itself, had always seemed rather more authentically Irish than the larger London parade held on the nearest Sunday since Ken Livingstone introduced it in 2002 and I made some pictures.

Brent Council had a fine record of supporting cultural events celebrating its various communities including the Irish, but with government cuts since 2010 no longer had the funds to do so.

This year too, the main London event was taking place the following day, St Patrick’s Day itself, so the Brent event was on the day before. So the crowds were rather thinner than in previous years, and the poor weather may have put some off too.

More pictures at St Patrick’s Parade Brent.


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